Land is an essential resource and plays a vital role in providing food and food security, water, ecosystem services and territorial resilience. However, the past few decades have generated enormous and increasingly unsustainable pressures on land use. The objective of this research is to analyse the main land use changes in Spain between 1987 and 2011 using data provided by the Corine Land Cover (CLC) project. The general trends in land use change at CLC level 1 in this period, and more specifically the changes occurring at CLC level 3 in land destined for agricultural use are analysed. The main reasons that explain these changes, including policy influences, are then identified. The results show that the area occupied by buildings and infrastructure has doubled, agricultural land has decreased and irrigated land has increased; forested areas have also increased, but their ecological quality has been degraded. These trends question the future sustainability of that land use in the analysed period.